Jun 26, 2019

Transcript of Donald Trump Interview with Meet The Press

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RevBlogTranscriptsDonald Trump TranscriptsTranscript of Donald Trump Interview with Meet The Press

President Donald Trump recently sat down with Chuck Todd on June 21, 2019 to talk about Joe Biden, Iran, and more. Rev is the industry leader in transcription services – try Rev’s video transcription services that we used to transcribe this interview.

Chuck Todd:
Mr. President welcome back to Meet the Press.

Donald Trump:
Thank you.

Chuck Todd:
Let me start right in. What happened last night?

Donald Trump:
Well, you had a situation that was very bad, because the night before they shot down an unmanned drone and the unmanned is a very big factor. The fact that there was not a person on it, a US person on it or anybody. And that had an impact on me. I said, “Well, we got a little problem.” And I think they did it on purpose because they understand that they will be hit very hard if that were a plane with a person in it. And I think they knew that there was nobody there.

Donald Trump:
So, we had a very modest, but pretty heavy attack schedule.

Chuck Todd:
And this is a preplan that you had, something that if they did something you had something- these are sort of ready made plans to use if necessary.

Donald Trump:
Sure. We have many of them. Oh, I have so many targets you wouldn’t believe.

Chuck Todd:
Right.

Donald Trump:
We have targets all over.

Chuck Todd:
So did you green light something? Or had you said, “If we do it, I’ll do this?” What was the order?

Donald Trump:
Nothing is green lighted until the very end because things change, right?

Chuck Todd:
So you never gave a final order.

Donald Trump:
No, no. But we had something ready to go, subject to my approval. They came in and they came in about a half an hour before. They say, “So we’re about ready to go.” I said, “I want a better definition.”

Chuck Todd:
Like in the air? Were planes in the air?

Donald Trump:
No, no, we’re about ready to go. No, but they would’ve been pretty soon. And things would’ve happened to a point where you wouldn’t turn back or couldn’t turn back. So they came and they said, “Sir, we’re ready to go. We’d like a decision.” I said, “I want to know something before you go. How many people will be killed?” In this case, Iranians. I said, “How many people are going to be killed?”

Donald Trump:
“Sir, I’d like to get back to you on that.” Great people, these generals. They came back, said, “Sire, approximately 150.” And I thought about it for a second and I said, “You know what, they shot down an unmanned drone, plane, whatever you want to call it, and here we are sitting with 150 dead people that would’ve taken place probably within a half an hour after I said go ahead.” And I didn’t like it, I didn’t think it was proportionate.

Donald Trump:
Now, that doesn’t mean…

Chuck Todd:
So what should the response be right now?

Donald Trump:
I think the response should be, well first of all, as you know, we’ve done very massive sanctions. We’re increasing the sanctions now. But the response is always going to be very strong. I built up a lot of capital, I’ve had a lot of people that aren’t Trump fans saying, “I can’t believe.” You know, a lot of them said we’re going to be in World War III the first week, didn’t work out that way. We’re doing great in North Korea, we’re doing great in a lot of different places. We knocked out the caliphate in Syria, we knocked out 100%. Remember I was going to lead it-

Chuck Todd:
Not 100%. [crosstalk 00:02:44] at 100%.

Donald Trump:
No, no, no. The caliphate.

Chuck Todd:
Okay. .

Donald Trump:
No, the caliphate, which is the land, the area.

Chuck Todd:
The land, fair enough.

Donald Trump:
Is 100%. You never knock these people out. These people are stone cold crazy. And they walk into a store and they’ll be wired up for bombs and they’ll blow, it’s a horrible thing. So I never say that. I don’t want to do what other presidents have done or other people have done saying we won, because you don’t win so conclusively. I would love to have the day where we can win.

Donald Trump:
You know, I remember when I was young, I’d go on an airplane. I’d walk up, I’d buy a ticket, I’d go on a plane. Nobody thought about bombs and nobody thought about security, you’d walk in, you’d give the ticket to the person at the gate, and you’d walk into a plane. Today it’s like, a big deal.

Donald Trump:
So what happened is I said I’m not going to do it. I’ll save it. If they do something else it’ll be double.

Chuck Todd:
I think they were trying to provoke you.

Donald Trump:
No, I don’t think so. And I think it was very important that they… to them, don’t forget, their economy-

Chuck Todd:
You don’t think they intended to get you to respond militarily?

Donald Trump:
Their economy is shattered, shattered.

Chuck Todd:
So what’s the message do you think they’re sending?

Donald Trump:
Their inflation is through the roof. They’ve never had, the highest in the world right now. Worse than any place. They’re living not well.

Chuck Todd:
So put yourself in their shoes, what do you think message they’re trying to send you with this?

Donald Trump:
I think they want to negotiate and I think they want to make a deal, and my deal is nuclear. Look, they’re not going to have a nuclear weapon. This isn’t about the Straits. Do you know that China gets 91% of its oil from the Straits? We don’t even need the Straits. We are now, since I came in, we’re the number one energy producer in the world, okay? Actually by far. And if I get the pipelines approved through the environmental process, which I will in Texas, we’ll go up by another 25%. But we’re way ahead of Russia, we’re way ahead of Saudi Arabia.

Donald Trump:
I think that they want to negotiate, I don’t think they like the position they’re in. Their economy is absolutely broken.

Chuck Todd:
So you sent a letter to the Ayatollah via Prime Minister Abe. And the Ayatollah seemed to say, “I’m not talking to you.”

Donald Trump:
I didn’t send a letter, no.

Chuck Todd:
Was it a verbal message? What did Prime Minister Abe carry on your behalf?

Donald Trump:
Prime Minister Abe’s a great guy. He’s a friend of mine and he obviously is close to them. I think he was their largest buyer of oil from before.

Chuck Todd:
Did he deliver a message from you to them?

Donald Trump:
No. He wanted to do something.

Chuck Todd:
Okay.

Donald Trump:
According to Prime Minister Abe, they went to him, this is according to the Prime Minister, and they said, “What do we do with Trump? Can we make a deal? Is there something that can be done?” That’s what Prime Minister Abe told me.

Donald Trump:
I said, “Do you mind if I say that if I have to?” And he said, “Not particularly.” So they came to Prime Minister Abe. He then called me, I said, “Send the following message: you can’t have nuclear weapons and other than that we can sit down and make a deal. But you cannot have nuclear weapons.”

Chuck Todd:
No other conditions other than that?

Donald Trump:
You cannot have nuclear weapons. And they would’ve had them with President Obama. He gave them 150 billion dollars [crosstalk 00:05:33] Remember this-

Chuck Todd:
What is your deal? I understand, but what is your deal going to look like with them?

Donald Trump:
Let me explain something. Number one, you have to look at the sites. Some of the most important sites we weren’t even allowed to look at or inspect, okay? Number two, the term was not long enough. There’s like, a short number of years left. After a very small number of years, you’re talking about a country, after a very small number of years, they have a free pass to nuclear weapons. You can’t do that. So I want to be able to inspect all sites, they cannot have ballistic missiles, which under the agreement isn’t even covered. And as you know, that agreement wasn’t even approved by Congress, a lot of people don’t know that. That was an agreement that he couldn’t get through Congress. He was not authorized really to do that deal.

Chuck Todd:
Congress did give him some authorization [crosstalk 00:06:16]

Donald Trump:
It wasn’t ratified by Congress.

Chuck Todd:
It wasn’t a treaty.

Donald Trump:
It was very, very short of what it should have been. You know that.

Chuck Todd:
Don’t you think though… what does it tell you that the Iranians haven’t violated the agreement yet? That they are trying hard not to violate the agreement?

Donald Trump:
Well you see, I think they have violated the agreement, because I think in the areas that we’re not allowed to inspect they’re doing things, and I think they have been for years.

Chuck Todd:
Europeans don’t think they’re violating the agreement.

Donald Trump:
Well I don’t care about the Europeans. The Europeans are going out and making a lot of money. The Europeans are fine, but they’re going out and making a lot of money. In France they’re selling cars to Iran. They’re doing other things. And let me tell you, we’re very good to Europe. We take care of them. NATO, we spend a tremendous about of disproportionate amount. On trade, the European Union’s taken, they have really taken advantage of us for a long time.

Donald Trump:
Just to finish, we have great relationships with Europe. I don’t mind Europe getting in the middle, Europe wants to make a deal too, Europe would love to see a deal being made.

Chuck Todd:
Are these going to be separate deals? Do you want to do a separate deal with Iran or do you want to get everybody involved in the same deal? Get the Russians, get the Chinese.

Donald Trump:
I don’t care what kind of a deal, it can be separate or it can be total.

Chuck Todd:
But it’s one on one talks, you and the Ayatollah?

Donald Trump:
All it is-

Chuck Todd:
Is it one on one talks, you and the Ayatollah? Or you and the President?

Donald Trump:
It doesn’t matter to me. Here’s what I want, anything that gets you to the result they cannot have a nuclear weapon. It’s not about the Straits, you know, a lot of people covered it incorrectly. They never mention they cannot have a nuclear weapon, they’d use it, and they’re not going to have a nuclear weapon. And it’s not about the oil-

Chuck Todd:
Did you send the message last night? Reuters is reporting that you sent a message to the Iranians saying, “I don’t want war, I want to talk.”

Donald Trump:
I did not send that message. I did not send that message. I don’t know who would’ve said that.

Chuck Todd:
Okay. Send a message right now to the Ayatollah.

Donald Trump:
I mean, it’s fake news.

Chuck Todd:
Then send a message right now to the Ayatollah.

Donald Trump:
It wouldn’t be much different than that message.

Chuck Todd:
Which is?

Donald Trump:
I’m not looking for war. And if there is, it’ll be obliteration like you’ve never seen before. But I’m not looking to do that, but you can’t have a nuclear weapon. You want to talk, good. Otherwise you can have a bad economy for the next three years.

Chuck Todd:
No preconditions?

Donald Trump:
Not as far as I’m concerned, no preconditions.

Chuck Todd:
And you’ll talk anyway?

Donald Trump:
Here it is, look, you can’t have nuclear weapons. And if you want to talk about it, good. Otherwise you can live in a shattered economy for a long time to come.

Chuck Todd:
Do you feel like you were being pushed into military action against Iran by any of your advisors?

Donald Trump:
I have two groups of people, I have doves and I have hawks.

Chuck Todd:
Yeah, you have some serious hawks.

Donald Trump:
I have some hawks, yeah, John Bolton is absolutely a hawk. If it was up to him he’d take on the whole world at one time, okay? But that doesn’t matter because I want both sides. You know, some people said, “Why did you put.” You know, I was against going into Iraq, for years and years. And before it ever happened, I was against going into Iraq. And some people said, “Oh, I don’t know.” I was totally against and I was a private citizen, it never made sense to me.

Donald Trump:
I was against going into the Middle East. Chuck, we’ve spent seven trillion dollars in the Middle East right now.

Chuck Todd:
Why is this our problem? This is a proxy war. Iran and Saudi Arabia are in a fight to the death out there.

Donald Trump:
Yeah, you’re right. Your right. And that’s another thing I’ve done.

Chuck Todd:
Canada, Trump, for years would have said, “Not our fight.” Why get involved?

Donald Trump:
Because of nuclear weapons, it has nothing to do with oil.

Chuck Todd:
So the minute you get them to do nuclear weapons you want out of the Middle East?

Donald Trump:
That’s all I care about… well, we’re going to protect Israel, but I have nothing to do, absolutely nothing- and we’re going to protect Saudi Arabia, look, Saudi Arabia’s buying 400 billion dollars worth of things for us, that’s a very good thing.

Chuck Todd:
You used to say we don’t get anything in return for protecting Saudi Arabia.

Donald Trump:
We are now.

Chuck Todd:
Do you feel like they’re now paying for the American protection?

Donald Trump:
I spoke to the Crown Prince this morning. We had a great conversation. I said, “This is a very expensive operation, you and the other nations that we’re protecting have to pay.” And he said, “Yes.”

Chuck Todd:
Did you talk to him about the UN report about Jamal Khashoggi?

Donald Trump:
I did not because it really didn’t come up in that discussion. I called about one reason.

Chuck Todd:
I understand.

Donald Trump:
I didn’t call about that. I called about one reason. There’s a very expensive operation. Unlike President Obama, and unlike everybody else, I’ll say others too, not just President Obama. You’ve got to pay for it. We just don’t want to go and protect the Middle East and protect Saudi Arabia and everyone else and not get reimbursed.

Chuck Todd:
So this is why you’re overruling Congress and letting all these weapon sales happen in Saudi Arabia.

Donald Trump:
Economic development. And that, but economic development.

Chuck Todd:
Nevermind the humanitarian disaster that’s taken place in Yemen?

Donald Trump:
A million jobs. No, it’s going to end, it’s going to end. By the way, who’s causing it though? If you look at it, Iran goes into Yemen, they start firing rockets at Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia has to protect themselves, Chuck. But it’s a million jobs and probable more. They buy massive amounts, 150 billion dollars worth of military equipment, that by the way, we use. We use their military equipment. Unlike other countries that don’t have money, and we have to subsidize everything, so Saudi Arabia’s a big buyer of American product. That means something to me. It’s a big producer of jobs.

Chuck Todd:
It makes you overlook some of their bad behavior?

Donald Trump:
No. I don’t like anybody’s bad behavior.

Chuck Todd:
The United Nations said they’d like the United States to order the FBI to investigate Jamal Khashoggi’s death. And possibly MBS’s involvement in it. Will you allow the FBI to do that?

Donald Trump:
I think it’s been heavily investigated.

Chuck Todd:
By who?

Donald Trump:
By everybody.

Chuck Todd:
By the FBI?

Donald Trump:
I’ve seen so many different reports.

Chuck Todd:
What about the FBI?

Donald Trump:
Here’s where I am. You ready?

Chuck Todd:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Donald Trump:
Iran’s killed many, many people a day. Other countries in the Middle East, this is a hostile place. This is a vicious, hostile place. If you’re going to look at Saudi Arabia, look at Iran, look at other countries, I won’t mention names, and take a look at what’s happening. Then you go outside of the Middle East and you take a look at what’s happening with countries, okay? I only say they spend 400 to 450 billion over a period of time. All money, all jobs, buying equipment.

Chuck Todd:
So that’s the price, as long as they keep buying you’ll overlook some of this behavior.

Donald Trump:
No. But I’m not like, a fool that says we don’t want to do business with them. By the way, if they don’t do business with us, you know what they do? They’ll do business with the Russians and with the Chinese. We make the best equipment in the world, but they will buy great equipment from Russia and from China. Chuck, take their money. Take their money, Chuck.

Chuck Todd:
What would candidate Trump have said about a president who on his watch had Iran shooting down a drone, a Venezuelan dictator thumbing his nose at you, Obamacare’s still on the books, and no results yet on the border. The border getting tough.

Donald Trump:
Well let’s take a look.

Chuck Todd:
What would candidate Trump have said about that?

Donald Trump:
Let’s take a look. The border’s doing great, Mexico’s been fantastic. They’ve been trying to get a deal with Mexico for 45 years, right? So for 45 years they couldn’t get a deal, I got one in one day. I said, “We’re going to put tariffs on and you can have a deal or not.” We agreed in one day, Mexico just moved 6000 people to their southern border, 6000 troops to their southern border. The border’s working out well and the wall is being built. I mean, a lot of people don’t like to talk about it, we’re building the wall. We will have 400 miles of wall built by the end of next year. And that’s hard because the Democrats don’t want to approve it, we just beat them in a big lawsuit as you know, in Washington, in DC, we just beat them at a very big lawsuit where they tried to-

Chuck Todd:
But doesn’t it frustrate you that your border numbers are worse than Obama’s?

Donald Trump:
No, because the people are coming up because our economy is so good. They’re pouring up because the economy is so good. Obama had a lousy economy, it was a dead economy.

Chuck Todd:
Can I ask you about that? Let me show you this chart. Do you see that chart?

Donald Trump:
No.

Chuck Todd:
It’s the unemployment rate from the peak of the Recession.

Donald Trump:
Right.

Chuck Todd:
Your economy’s great, I’m not saying it’s not great. But this recovery started, and in the 28 months that you’ve been president, and the last 28 months of Obama’s presidency, he averaged more new jobs than your first 28 months.

Donald Trump:
That’s because he started off with such a bad base.

Chuck Todd:
Okay. But is it not a continuous-

Donald Trump:
Chuck, you have to understand, nobody was working. The whole place was a disaster, and I’d never take that away. But it’s very easy, because when that turned around, they pumped a tremendous amount of money into the economy. He also had a Federal Reserve person who kept the interest rates low, I don’t. I don’t have that privilege.

Chuck Todd:
Sounds like you do now.

Donald Trump:
Oh, no, no. You raised him far too fast. You raised him far too fast.

Chuck Todd:
Your threat to demote him, do you think that’s had an impact?

Donald Trump:
I didn’t ever threaten to demote him.

Chuck Todd:
There’s been some talk that you might demote him to the number two slot.

Donald Trump:
I’d be able to do that if I wanted, but I haven’t suggested that.

Chuck Todd:
That’s not a threat, that’s just a reminder that you can?

Donald Trump:
No, no. I have the right to do that, but I haven’t said that. What he’s done is 50 billion a month in quantitative tightening, that’s ridiculous. What he’s done is he raised interest rates too fast, I can prove it all.

Chuck Todd:
Do you worry he’s going to hurt your reelection?

Donald Trump:
I think the economy’s so strong we’re going to bull through it. But I’m not happy with his actions, no. I don’t think he’s done a good job. I think this, if he didn’t raise rates… Obama had very low rates, so Obama was playing with funny money, I wasn’t. I’m playing with the real stuff.

Chuck Todd:
Let me ask you this.

Donald Trump:
Wait, wait. Obama had somebody that kept the rates very low, I had somebody that raised the rates very rapidly, too much. He made a mistake, that’s been proven. And yet, my economy is phenomenal. We have now the best economy maybe in the history of our country. Just to finish off, when I took over, this country, the economy was ready to collapse. You take a look at the numbers, it was ready to collapse. And if I didn’t win-

Chuck Todd:
I just showed you the numbers. It was not ready to collapse.

Donald Trump:
You showed me unemployment numbers.

Chuck Todd:
Yeah, but unemployment, it was not ready to collapse.

Donald Trump:
Excuse me, excuse me. Take a look at your GDP, take a look at your jobs, take a look at your optimism, take a look at all of the charts. When I took over, from election day on, I mean you show me one chart.

Chuck Todd:
Let’s see your unemployment rate.

Donald Trump:
I did well in that too, but I’m not talking about that. Take a look at some of the optimism charts and everything else. It went from 57 to 92? Nobody’s ever seen anything that-

Chuck Todd:
Your right. The optimism, you’re right.

Donald Trump:
Right after I won. Well optimism is a big part of success in business, okay.

Chuck Todd:
You were always hard on Obama, you thought he wasn’t enough of a cheerleader.

Donald Trump:
He was not a cheerleader.

Chuck Todd:
If you could have one do over as president, what would it be?

Donald Trump:
Well it would be personnel. I would say if I had one do over, it would be I would not have appointed Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General, that would be my one.

Chuck Todd:
In your mind that [crosstalk 00:16:16]

Donald Trump:
Yeah. That was the biggest.

Chuck Todd:
Is Bill Barr your Roy Cohn?

Donald Trump:
He should’ve never… I think he’s a very talented, very-

Chuck Todd:
You know what I mean by that, you’ve always said, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” Is he your Roy Cohn?

Donald Trump:
No, no, no. Look, you have to see him, Roy Cohn, but I had many, many lawyers, a lot of lawyers. Roy was one of them, he was a tough guy. Bill Barr is a… First of all, Bill Barr-

Chuck Todd:
Is he cut from the same cloth you think?

Donald Trump:
Bill Barr is equally tough. He’s a fine man. He’s a fine man. The job he’s done is incredible. He’s brought sanity back. I think he’s real, I don’t think, I know, he’s respected. You know, he loves the Department of Justice. He saw what was happening. He has done a spectacular job. Now he’s in the process of doing something and I stay away from it, I stay away from it. But I think he feels that what’s happened in this country was a very bad thing and very bad for our country.

Chuck Todd:
I want to ask what’s going down with the children in these migrant camps. The stories are horrible, Mr. President. You have children without their parents, you have kids taking care of kids.

Donald Trump:
Yeah.

Chuck Todd:
You’ve read these reports, I know people are coming to you. I know you think this is the Democrats problem. Forget it, why aren’t you doing something about it?

Donald Trump:
Are you ready?

Chuck Todd:
They are in terrible shape down there, Mr. President. Down in Homestead, Florida, that’s where I grew up.

Donald Trump:
Okay.

Chuck Todd:
The conditions are terrible.

Donald Trump:
I agree. And it’s been that way for a long time.

Chuck Todd:
Do something.

Donald Trump:
President Obama built the cages. Remember when they said that I built them? And then it was 1914.

Chuck Todd:
Do two wrongs make a right?

Donald Trump:
It was 2014. Chuck, just listen for one second, separation. President Obama, I took over separation. I’m the one that put it together. What’s happened though, are the cartels and all of these bad people, they’re using the kids. It’s almost like slavery.

Chuck Todd:
Well let’s not punish the kids more.

Donald Trump:
This has been happening-

Chuck Todd:
The kids are getting punished more.

Donald Trump:
You’re right, and this has been happening long before I got there. What we’ve done is we’ve created- we’ve ended separation. You know, under President Obama you had separation. I was the one that ended it. Now I said one thing. When I ended it, I said, “Here’s what’s going to happen, more families are going to come up.” And that’s what’s happened. But they’re really coming up for the economics, but once you ended the separation. But I ended separation. I inherited separation from President Obama.

Donald Trump:
President Obama built, they call them jail cells. They were built by the Obama-

Chuck Todd:
Let’s talk about what’s happening now.

Donald Trump:
I’m just telling you.

Chuck Todd:
Your administration, you’re not doing the recreation, you’re not even schooling these kids anymore, you’ve gotten rid of all that stuff.

Donald Trump:
We’re doing a fantastic job under the circumstances. The Democrats aren’t even approving giving us money. Where is the money? You know what? The Democrats are holding up the humanitarian aide.

Chuck Todd:
It looks like these kids are being used as some sort of… is it hostage? They’re being held hostage.

Donald Trump:
Well they are being used. They are being used by very bad people on the other side, where they actually get paid. Money is being made using them because our laws are so bad. Because if you have a child, you have an advantage, you know that better than anybody. And what should happen, Chuck?

Chuck Todd:
But why let the political debate hurt these children? They could be impacted for years.

Donald Trump:
If the Democrats would change the asylum laws and the loopholes, which they refuse to do because they think it’s good politics, everything would be solved immediately. But they refuse to do it. They refuse to do it. Do you know what? If they change those, I say, I used to say 45 minutes, it’s 15 minutes. If they changed asylum and if they changed loopholes, everything on the border would be perfect.

Chuck Todd:
Let me ask you this, why do you think Nancy Pelosi has held off her impeachment caucus?

Donald Trump:
Because I think she feels that I will win much easier. I mean, I’ve been told that by many people.

Chuck Todd:
Do you think impeachment’s good politics for you?

Donald Trump:
I think I win the election easier, but you know, I’m not sure that I like having it. Look, I did nothing wrong, I was spied on. What they did to me was illegal. It was illegal on the other side, I did nothing wrong. So impeachment’s a very unfair thing, because nothing that I did was wrong. And if you look at the Mueller Report, there was no collusion. This was all about collusion.

Chuck Todd:
Nowhere in the Mueller Report, by the way, Mr. President, you say no collusion, I’ve read this Mueller Report, both parts of it-

Donald Trump:
Use the word collusion, or use-

Chuck Todd:
There’s not one place that says nothing happened.

Donald Trump:
Use the word collusion, use the word conspiracy.

Chuck Todd:
It never says no collusion.

Donald Trump:
I’ll be honest with you, nobody even mentions Russia anymore. Since the Mueller Report, they don’t mention it, in all fairness. Nobody mentions Russia anymore, and it was about Russia. It was a hoax.

Chuck Todd:
Let me ask you this, during the campaign-

Donald Trump:
Wait a minute. Wait, wait, we’ll give you the time that you need.

Chuck Todd:
What hoax it was?

Donald Trump:
It was a hoax, the Russian hoax, with me.

Chuck Todd:
You don’t believe it happened?

Donald Trump:
I had nothing to do-

Chuck Todd:
You don’t believe the Russians interfered in our election?

Donald Trump:
What they did with respect to the election is different, we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about my campaign working is a hoax.

Chuck Todd:
The idea that you were conspiring. Fair enough.

Donald Trump:
Okay, good.

Chuck Todd:
But going back, on Wikileaks, knowing now that that was stolen foreign material, do you regret using it?

Donald Trump:
Well I wouldn’t have, but this was well known. I think it was in papers, and again now, I’m going back a long ways, but [crosstalk 00:21:00]

Chuck Todd:
It was all rumored to be Russian stolen property so why’d you use it?

Donald Trump:
How would I even know that? I made a speech. It was in there about Wikileaks, I’m not a Wikileaks person.

Chuck Todd:
Knowing now, knowing that they’re a Russian Intelligence asset, do you regret it?

Donald Trump:
Let me tell you, Wikileaks, et cetera, that’s not my deal in life. In other words, I don’t know about Wikileaks, it was a strange name. But there were stories about, something Wikileaks, that they had information. And I say it in a joking manner at a speech. Joking, everybody laughing, everybody having a good… and they made it like it was serious. No, I don’t want anything bad to happen to our country. Anything bad happens to this country, I will end it and I’ll end it fast, I don’t want any of that to happen.

Chuck Todd:
There’s one part in the Mueller Report, your son, Donald Trump Junior did cooperate and appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee. In the Mueller Report it says that he did not voluntarily sit for an interview with Mueller’s team, and then there’s a redaction, a Grand Jury redaction. Did he involuntarily sit?

Donald Trump:
I don’t know. I can only tell you this. My son-

Chuck Todd:
Is it possible he was subpoenaed?

Donald Trump:
I really don’t know.

Chuck Todd:
You don’t know if he was subpoenaed?

Donald Trump:
But let me tell you what I do know.

Chuck Todd:
So did you not read the Mueller Report?

Donald Trump:
Let me tell you, I read much of it.

Chuck Todd:
The unredacted version? Or no.

Donald Trump:
No I didn’t, I didn’t. But let me just tell you-

Chuck Todd:
So if he was subpoenaed you wouldn’t know?

Donald Trump:
I read the conclusion. Well he was subpoenaed, ultimately he was subpoenaed to sit before the Senate intel. And he did that.

Chuck Todd:
But was he subpoenaed by Mr. Mueller?

Donald Trump:
I don’t know, but I don’t think so.

Chuck Todd:
If he was subpoenaed, was he going to appear before the Grand Jury or was he just going to plead the fifth?

Donald Trump:
I don’t know, I really don’t know, but you can certainly ask him. I just don’t know.

Chuck Todd:
But you don’t know.

Donald Trump:
My son, he has been treated so unfairly. He sat for many, many hours before these committees. I think, my impression is that Mueller took all of the information from the committees, and he used that information. How much can you talk about something? Remember the phone calls? The three phone calls?

Donald Trump:
It was such a big deal. Three phone calls that were made to a special type number. Okay? And everybody said, “Oh, he called his father.” That went on for a year. In other words, before this so called meeting, and after the meeting, “He called his father!” The biggest story, headlines all over the place. And then it turned out… and I give Mueller credit because Mueller was the one that found out, through I guess the phone companies or whatever, somebody found out, maybe through the FBI… Big investigation on who the calls were made, if they were made to me it would have sounded like you.

Donald Trump:
Wait a minute, they turned out that it wasn’t to me. It was to a real estate person and a NASCAR person. Two great people. Have nothing to do with Russia, have nothing to do. And you know what? People hardly even put the story in. My son was treated unfairly. My son, he spent 20 some odd hours, and then he went back again. He is a very innocent young man, and he was treated very badly.

Chuck Todd:
You’re going to see Vladimir Putin in a week.

Donald Trump:
Yes. I’m going to see him [crosstalk 00:23:57]

Chuck Todd:
Are you going to address him directly about interference in 2020?

Donald Trump:
I may. I may.

Chuck Todd:
Are you going to tell him not to do it?

Donald Trump:
I may, if you’d like me to do it, I’ll do that. You know what? Here’s what you do.

Chuck Todd:
Well some people think that your answer last week invited him to do it again.

Donald Trump:
Oh, that’s not true. That’s not true.

Chuck Todd:
Are you going to tell him not to, and what are the consequences?

Donald Trump:
My answer last week was both. I said both, I’d do both. Except they didn’t put it on, and when they did put it on, people understood. But they didn’t put it on because they put a different segment on. So they asked me a question, but when I said, “Yeah, I’d do both.” People saw that in the last version of it, because the thing played like all weekend and on Friday. So it’s just more fake news.

Donald Trump:
Chuck, there’s so much fake news. It would be so good if-

Chuck Todd:
That’s why I’m interviewing you one on one.

Donald Trump:
That’s fine, that’s what I like doing.

Chuck Todd:
Let me ask you this.

Donald Trump:
But I like live interviews better, you know why? Because you can’t cut the answers.

Chuck Todd:
Guess what, you’re going to enjoy the fact that I’m not going to over edit this interview, that I promise you.

Chuck Todd:
Do you think you’ve been more successful in business or the presidency?

Donald Trump:
Well, I can’t be more successful in politics. I mean, I ran once and I’m President, right? So you have to say that’s about… it’s never happened before, right? So I’m one for one and I hope to be two for two. But my business has been a tremendous success. I actually said to the lawyers, I’d like to show my financial statement. My financial statement is great. I built a [crosstalk 00:25:15]

Chuck Todd:
You could release your tax returns any day if you want.

Donald Trump:
You don’t learn from tax returns, and I’m under audit, Chuck. I’ve been saying I, I’m under audit. But you don’t learn from tax returns.

Chuck Todd:
I was under audit, I had my tax returns.

Donald Trump:
But you would learn from a financial statement. I would like to release it. I’ve built a great company. They like to… for instance, banks. I could’ve borrowed from banks but I didn’t need to, because I had money. I did things.. in fact a lot of people over the last couple of years were really surprised. “He paid all cash, he didn’t use banks.”

Donald Trump:
I think I’ve been tremendously successful in business. I think I’ve been tremendously successful in show business, with The Apprentice. I mean, I did one show and it was a great hit, as you know from NBC. And I guess you’d have to say I’ve been really successful in politics.

Chuck Todd:
The Republican Party has changed in your image. Do you think you caused that change? Or do you think the party was changing and you were the leader they selected?

Donald Trump:
I think common sense caused it. You know, I’m about common sense. People say, “Are you conservative?” I guess I’m conservative, but I’m about common sense. I’m about we need borders, we’re going to have borders and we have strong borders. By the way, Mexico has done a great job, it’s slowed down so much. But we have an amazing economy and people want to come up, but it’s slowed down so much.

Donald Trump:
But I’m about borders. I’m about great healthcare. Obamacare is a disaster. I got rid of the individual mandate.

Chuck Todd:
By the way, why is the economy doing so well if Obamacare is still law of the land? You had said in 2011-

Donald Trump:
We are managing.

Chuck Todd:
“Obamacare is going to destroy the economy.” Obamacare is still here, and the economy’s great.

Donald Trump:
Because I’ve managed it great. I had a choice. I could’ve let it implode and killed it, or I could’ve managed it.

Chuck Todd:
You’re still trying to kill it.

Donald Trump:
No, no.

Chuck Todd:
Why are you still trying to kill it… This lawsuit that the Department of Justice joined, it could get rid of coverage in preexisting conditions.

Donald Trump:
I am in favor of preexisting conditions, I am fighting.

Chuck Todd:
So get rid of… so drop the lawsuit. Drop your aspect of the lawsuit.

Donald Trump:
It has nothing to do with it. The lawsuit is one thing. We are going to put it in a bill, total preexisting conditions. And the Republicans are in favor of preexisting conditions.

Chuck Todd:
Sir, you have full Republican control and they couldn’t pass anything.

Donald Trump:
Chuck-

Chuck Todd:
What makes you think you’re going to get it done this time?

Donald Trump:
Are you ready? We had a negative vote from John McCain, it was a surprising vote, but I got rid of the worst part of Obamacare which was the individual mandate. We will always protect preexisting conditions, and the reason Obamacare continues is my decision.

Chuck Todd:
And maybe- right.

Donald Trump:
Wait. I made a big decision.

Chuck Todd:
Okay.

Donald Trump:
We have a man named Azar, our Secretary. He’s a fantastic man. Alex. A total pro. I could’ve managed Obamacare so it would’ve failed, or I could’ve managed it the way we did so it’s as good as it can be. Not great, but it’s as good… it’s too expensive, the premiums are too high. I had a decision to make. I could’ve politically killed Obamacare. I decided not to do it. But still, it’s not good. We’re going to come up with great healthcare if we win the House, the Senate and the Presidency.

Chuck Todd:
Are you prepared to lose?

Donald Trump:
No. Probably not.

Chuck Todd:
Fair enough.

Donald Trump:
Probably not. I mean, it would be much better if I said, “Yeah.” It would be much easier for me to say, “Well yes.” No, I’m probably not too prepared to lose. I don’t like to lose and I haven’t lost very much in my life.

Chuck Todd:
You didn’t like the fact that you lost the popular vote. That bothered you didn’t it.

Donald Trump:
Well I think it was a… I mean I’ll say something that again, is controversial. There were a lot of votes cast that I don’t believe. I look at California.

Chuck Todd:
Mr. President.

Donald Trump:
Excuse me. Take a look at Judicial Watch, take a look at their settlement. California admitted to a million votes, they admitted to a million votes.

Chuck Todd:
A million votes of what?

Donald Trump:
Take a look at Judicial-

Chuck Todd:
What are you talking about?

Donald Trump:
Judicial Watch made a settlement. There was much-

Chuck Todd:
About what?

Donald Trump:
There was much illegal voting. But let me tell you about popular vote, do you have a second?

Chuck Todd:
Yes, because you were a big fan of it. Until you weren’t.

Donald Trump:
There are two… well I like popular vote.

Chuck Todd:
Yeah.

Donald Trump:
I think I’d do better with a popular vote. But I didn’t campaign for the popular vote.

Chuck Todd:
You’re right.

Donald Trump:
You didn’t see me campaigning in California or New York. If it was up to the popular vote, I would’ve done I think even better. I won 306 to 223, which was a lot in the Electoral College. But it’s like, you’re training for the 100 yard dash versus the mile.

Chuck Todd:
You’re totally right. If it’s a popular vote, you campaign differently.

Donald Trump:
I went to Wisconsin.

Chuck Todd:
I don’t disagree.

Donald Trump:
She forgot. I went to Michigan, she didn’t go to Michigan enough. I won Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania. I won places that she didn’t do a good job, what can I tell you.

Donald Trump:
No, maybe I did a great job. You know, I never get credit for that. They always say she was a lousy candidate. I actually think that Hillary Clinton was a great candidate. She was very smart, she was very tough. She was ruthless and vicious.

Chuck Todd:
You’d rather run against her again, wouldn’t you? You only talked about her in your announcement speech.

Donald Trump:
No, no.

Chuck Todd:
You spent a lot of time talking about her.

Donald Trump:
No, I would actually rather run against Biden. I think that would be my preference.

Chuck Todd:
Why?

Donald Trump:
Sleepy Joe. He’s sleepy. She was not sleepy. Let me just tell you something, the Electoral College is tougher for a Republican to win than the popular vote in my… at least me. I feel I’d go to three places. I went to 19 or 21 states. I went to Maine four times because I wanted to get one, and I did get it. And that’s the beauty of the Electoral College. You know, I’d been a proponent of the other sometimes, and I change. But I will tell you, the Electoral College brings you to many of the states in this country.

Chuck Todd:
You have joked about a third term, you’ve joked about these things.

Donald Trump:
I only joke. I joke and I say, “Watch, I will Chuck Todd crazy.”

Chuck Todd:
Okay.

Donald Trump:
Yes, [crosstalk 00:30:32]

Chuck Todd:
You will accept the result.

Donald Trump:
Sure.

Chuck Todd:
Whatever happens in 2020.

Donald Trump:
Sure.

Chuck Todd:
You’ll be like, you’re not going to like it, but you walk out.

Donald Trump:
In fact I said at a speech recently, I said, “Watch. We’ll drive the media crazy. Let’s go for a third term and then a fourth.” And some of the media said, “He is going to do it.”

Chuck Todd:
Speaking of driving people crazy, when you were asked about Mike Pence and 2024, and you paused a minute about endorsing him as your successor, that got a lot of people going. Is Mike Pence 100% on your ticket in 2020?

Donald Trump:
Well look, 100%, yes.

Chuck Todd:
100%. There is no wiggle room?

Donald Trump:
Yes, he’s been a terrific Vice President. He’s my friend and a lot of things. No. Zero, zero.

Chuck Todd:
So why’d you hesitate in endorsing him in being-

Donald Trump:
Because it was a surprise question. I mean, I’m not even thinking of it, it’s so far out.

Chuck Todd:
Okay.

Donald Trump:
I mean, it’s so far out. That would be the only reason. Now what happens in 2024, I don’t know that Mike is going to run. I don’t know who’s running or anything else. I will say this, I think it’s a tremendous embarrassment to Joe Biden that Obama has not… the President Obama, I like to say that because it’s respect for the office. And respect for him.

Chuck Todd:
Do you speak to any of the former presidents?

Donald Trump:
Yes.

Chuck Todd:
Who’s the last one you did?

Donald Trump:
Well I speak to Bush. I speak to Jimmy Carter.

Chuck Todd:
You do? What about President Obama?

Donald Trump:
I have not spoken to him pretty much from the beginning.

Chuck Todd:
But George W. Bush you do? And Jimmy Carter?

Donald Trump:
I have spoken to Bush, I have spoken to Jimmy Carter, yes.

Chuck Todd:
Yeah? Do you get… why?

Donald Trump:
I like Jimmy Carter. You know, Jimmy Carter has oftentimes come to my defense. I don’t necessarily agree with the way he ran things and that’s okay, and he understands that and so do I. But he came to my defense on numerous occasions, and he thinks that I was treated the worst of anybody he’s ever seen by the press.

Chuck Todd:
During every new season-

Donald Trump:
I don’t think he’s including you.

Chuck Todd:
Every new season of The Apprentice, you had something new to roll out. What’s your big new idea for your reelection?

Donald Trump:
I think that the economy has tremendous upward potential despite the fact that we’re doing really well. I think when we really unleash some of the things that we’re going to do-

Chuck Todd:
Well what’s your new idea? What is the new big idea?

Donald Trump:
I also think that healthcare is going to be very important for me. I will tell you, if we win the House, the Senate and the Presidency, I will get tremendous healthcare, because Obamacare is a disaster.

Chuck Todd:
You think Democrats won the house because of healthcare?

Donald Trump:
I think they won because of preexisting condition, nothing to do with me. Because if you know, almost every race that I campaigned for somebody, they won. But I couldn’t devote too much time to the House, there’s too many people. But if you look at some of the congressmen that I did go for and went for, they won. Like in Kentucky, et cetera, et cetera.

Chuck Todd:
So you’re one new idea is going to be healthcare?

Donald Trump:
Ohio governor, he was behind, great guy.

Chuck Todd:
He was?

Donald Trump:
Mike won. Georgia, President Obama was there, Oprah was there, Michelle Obama was there it was going to be a big celebration, she was the star of the party. I went there for Brian. Brian Kemp. Brian Kemp won. Florida, Ron DeSantis. He was going to lose, he was low in the polls. I endorsed him, he went up 60 points after I endorsed him. Ron won, and he’s been a great Governor of Florida.

Donald Trump:
You know, I’ve always heard that an endorsement is nice to have but it doesn’t mean anything. I’m driving people up 30, 40, 50, 60 percent.

Chuck Todd:
Well when you show up, you bring a lot of people.

Donald Trump:
We bring something very good.

Chuck Todd:
I am curious, did you see Jon Stewart’s pretty passionate plea on behalf of 9/11 responders?

Donald Trump:
I was very impressed, yes.

Chuck Todd:
He’s frustrated with Mitch McConnell, he feels like Mitch McConnell’s the guy standing in the way of this bill. You’re a New Yorker first, I know that in you. I’ve got to think Jon Stewart got to you.

Donald Trump:
Yeah, well-

Chuck Todd:
Are you going to tell Mitch McConnell to-

Donald Trump:
I liked what Jon Stewart did, I actually did. And I actually have a meeting on that subject next week. So we’ll see what happens. You know it’s a very complicated subject for a lot of reasons, okay?

Chuck Todd:
I understand that it is. But do you think that Jon Stewart had a point that Congress hadn’t done enough?

Donald Trump:
I have a meeting on that subject with… Well when you say Congress, billions of dollars has been paid.

Chuck Todd:
I understand that.

Donald Trump:
Okay, billions.

Chuck Todd:
Right. But the fund was about to run out.

Donald Trump:
Memorials have been built. Tremendous amounts of money. But there are still people that are sick. I have a meeting on it next week.

Chuck Todd:
All right, Mr. President.

Donald Trump:
Thank you.

Chuck Todd:
I appreciate the time.

Donald Trump:
Thank you very much.

Chuck Todd:
Thank you sir.

Speaker 3:
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